6 Of The Best With Basil: How To Use Basil In Cooking The Right Way

When summer comes around, many people want to know how to use basil in cooking.

With over 60 types of basil to choose from, it truly is a versatile garnish. The king of herbs goes well with just about anything. Whether it’s a sauce or salad, dessert or the classic pesto, a dose of fresh basil leaves can enhance your dish sublimely.

The most common kinds used are sweet basil (for Italian flavor), Thai basil (prevalent throughout Asia) and Purple Opal (superb for cocktails).

To enjoy the best, fullest flavor, you generally add your fresh basil right at the end of cooking. Of course, this varies with some recipes but as a rule it will go in last.


How is basil used?

Read on. Get some food for thought and 6 fantastic recipes!

But before you start, a quick handy hint: Instead of cutting up the basil leaves, simply rip them roughly for the optimum effect.

1) Pesto


Pesto is a highly flexible recipe that can be made with just about any kind of herbs. Basil, though, is the herb which we immediately associate with this Italian staple.

No selection of basil recipes would be complete without including this bona fide classic.

It’s straightforward to make. Do yourself and your meal justice. Sidestep the pre-prepared version and make your own.


  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 tbsp)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil (1/2 cup)
  • Fresh Parmesan (1/2 cup)


  • Put all the ingredients together in a food processor. Purée to your desired consistency
  • Season to taste and serve! It’s really that simple

2) Tomato, Basil And Fresh Mozzarella Salad

Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

This tried and tested tricolore salad has a base of pesto.

A salad like this is the ideal way to kick off a three-course Italian meal. It works well at any time of year but is particularly refreshing in the summer.


  • Red tomato (12 slices)
  • Yellow tomato (12 slices)
  • Fresh mozzarella (1/2 cup)
  • Salt and black pepper


  • Prepare pesto sauce as above
  • Arrange the tomato slices on a plate
  • Tear up the mozzarella and interweave with tomato
  • Drizzle pesto sauce over the salad
  • Top dish with the remaining fresh basil, season and serve

3) Salmon With Basil Sauce

) Salmon with Basil Sauce

Simplicity is the way forward with most fish, especially one as delectable as salmon.

A light, lemon-infused sauce with fresh basil is a wonderful way to accompany salmon without overpowering it.


  • 4 salmon fillets
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1 cup)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Fresh basil (1 cup)
  • Garlic (1 clove)
  • Fresh lemon juice (2 tsps)


  • Drizzle olive oil over salmon fillets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, set aside to stand for 10 mins
  • Put half the olive oil and remaining ingredients in food processor and blend finely
  • Heat a large, non-stick pan or skillet on medium high
  • Sautée salmon 4-5 mins each side then plate up
  • Heat reserved basil sauce in the pan
  • Pour sauce over the salmon and serve with fresh veg of your choice

4) Chicken And Basil Stir-Fry

Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry

Freshly cooked food does not need to be complex or time-consuming.

Many people rely on fast-food claiming that they are too busy to cook. This is not a valid excuse.

This dish can be given entirely different flavors by using sweet basil or Thai basil. Why not try it both ways?

Get this delicious and nutritious stir-fry on your plate in just 10 minutes.


  • 2 Skinned chicken breasts, halved
  • Fresh basil leaves (3 cups)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1 tbsp)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Fresh basil (1 cup)
  • Garlic (1 clove)
  • Fresh ginger (1 tbsp)
  • Hot chili flakes (1/4 tsp)
  • Chicken broth (2/3 cup)
  • Soy sauce (1 tbsp)
  • Cornstarch (2 tsps)
  • Rice


  • Rinse the chicken breasts. Pat dry. Cut into thin strips
  • Cook some rice as per packet
  • Heat a large, non-stick pan or skillet on high. Add oil, ginger, garlic, chili, and chicken
  • Stir-fry 3-4 minutes until chicken cooking and no longer pink
  • Mix broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a bowl so it’s smooth
  • Add sauce to pan and stir until it boils (about 1 min)
  • Add basil leaves and stir in until they wilt (30 secs)
  • Season to taste and serve with rice

5) Grilled Tuna With Basil Butter And Tomato Sauce

Grilled Tuna with Basil Butter and Tomato Sauce

With two contrasting sauces, this dish appears complicated but is actually deceptively simple.

One of these sauces is a simple mix with basil. The tomato sauce is achieved with a rapid sautée.

Impress your guests with a sophisticated meal prepared quickly and easily. Show them how to use basil in cooking. The proof of the pudding is in the crust…



  • Fresh basil leaves (3/4 cup)
  • Butter (2 tbsps)
  • Fresh lemon juice (1 tbsp)
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Salt (1/4 tsp)


  • Extra virgin olive oil (2 tsps)
  • Finely chopped red onion (1/2 cup)
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Cherry tomatoes (3 cups)
  • Dry white wine (1/2 cup)
  • Capers (3 tbsps)
  • Balsamic vinegar (2 tbsps)
  • Sugar (1/4 tsp)
  • Fresh parsley (1/4 cup)


  • 4 tuna steaks
  • Salt (1/2 tsp)
  • Black pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 basil leaves


  • Heat your grill
  • Combine the ingredients for basil butter. Blend nicely in a food processor
  • Heat oil in a large, non-stick pan or skillet on medium high
  • Sautée onion and 2 garlic cloves (3 mins) then tomatoes (2 mins)
  • Stir in the vinegar, wine, capers and sugar. Bring to boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer (5 mins) while occasionally stirring
  • Add parsley and set aside
  • Coat your grill rack with cooking spray, season tuna then cook (5 mins each side)
  • Serve with sauce and basil butter garnished with fresh basil

6) Lemon Basil Shrimp With Pasta

Lemon Basil Shrimp with Pasta

Pasta and basil go together hand-in-glove.

This is an extremely rapid and mouth-watering main dish that will impress your guest and demonstrates yet another great way to use basil in cooking.


  • Pack of your preferred pasta
  • Large shrimp peeled and deveined (1 pound)
  • Fresh basil leaves (1/4 cup)
  • Drained capers (3 tbsp)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsps)
  • Fresh lemon juice (2 tbsps)
  • Baby spinach (2 cups)
  • Salt and black pepper


  • Bring some water to boil in pan and cook pasta as per pack instructions
  • Add shrimp and continue to cook (3 mins)
  • Drain and place in large bowl
  • Stir in basil and all other ingredients except spinach
  • Place spinach on plates and serve up pasta mixture


The pesto sauce would go very well with this dish. Enjoy!


If you are stuck for time or ideas and want to know how to use basil in cooking then take advantage of these recipes. All of them are quick and basic.

Remember to use your hands instead of a knife when preparing basil. Get a rustic look along with optimum flavor.

Whether it’s Italian cookery or Asian dishes that you are looking for, this herb adds a nice kick of flavor. It’s well worth the time to grow some fresh basil at home. Check out here just how easy it is!

igarden Planting

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This